City Council Approves 7.7 Mile Route for Wilshire Bus Only Lanes, Asks Metro to Consider 8.7 Mile Route

Click on the image for more information on time savings from the various proposed routes.

Next week, the County Board of Supervisors will meet to vote on the Wilshire Bus Only Lanes proposal to decide the county’s official position on the three potential routes.  However, the main drama over the proposal ended earlier today when the Los Angeles City Council approved alternative A1 for the proposal, the 7.7 mile route along Wilshire Boulevard excluding Beverly Hills, Condo Canyon and Santa Monica but including Brentwood.

Which doesn’t mean that all of the drama is over.  The Brentwood Community Council made a not so veiled threat to sue over the lack of studies of the impact of shortening sidewalk lengths to make room for a travel lane in Brentwood.  When there’s more news of that lawsuit, we’ll let you know.

At one point during public comment, the Bike Coalition’s Allison Mannos asked for increased public comment because the majority of the people that had the chance to speak were in favor of a truncated route.  Her plea fell on deaf ears, but it didn’t matter.  There was no support on the Council for the 5.4 mile route from Downtown L.A. to the Beverly Hills border that was championed by Councilman Bill Rosendahl and Brentwood Community Council activists.

Towards the end of the debate, a frustrated Rosendahl compared himself to a “lone boat at sea” and commented that he would prefer a route that included the Condo Canyon area over one that didn’t but included Brentwood.  If he had voted that way, the 8.7 mile route would have actually passed the full council creating a showdown with the Metro Board which had already approved the 7.7 mile route.

Instead of a debate over the value of Bus Only Lanes in Brentwood, the Council debated whether or not the politics of the Metro Board and County Board of Supervisors should trump council decisions.  In the end, they tried to have their bus and ride it too, by going along with the 7.7 mile route but “urging” a change to the 8.7 route should the County or Board should change their minds.  By going along with the Metro Board’s previous position, they assured that the project will be submitted to the Federal Transit Administration, who is funding the project, by their deadline.  The Metro Board of Directors, who already voted on this project, the City Council and County Board of Supervisors, who are voting next week, all have to agree on a route before the application can be submitted.

Which is not to say that today’s vote was easy.

The City Council actually voted with a majority of present members for the 8.7 mile route, 7-5.  However, Council rules require 8 votes to pass a measure, regardless of the members present.  Councilmen Alarcon, Reyes, Parks and Cardenas were vocal in their support for the 8.7 mile route citing the needs of transit riders.  Reyes told a personal story of his commute from the Eastside to UCLA, while Reyes compared any changes from the 7.7 mile route the Green Line not being extended to LAX.

For Cardenas, the matter was simple.  Politics shouldn’t trump planning.  “Anything short of 8.7 mile routes is too much politics.” – Cardenas

However, the arguments Councilmen Krekorian, LaBonge and especially Paul Koretz, who quoted a traffic study commissioned by Condo Canyon residents as if it were a Holy Book, barely won the day.  LaBonge and Krekorian both repeated that voting for the 7.7 mile route eliminates any chance of the application not getting to the federal government in time to receive funding.  LaBonge also compared transportation planning to a bicycle wheel in calling for better transit connections on Vermont Blvd. and Western Ave.  Referring to centralized areas as “hubs” and the connections to them as “spokes,” the Councilman called on Metro to “hub and spoke it more,” which sent the LACBC Twitter feed into a giggling fit.

  • Sunyoung

    Yeah!!

  • PlebisPower

    >If he had voted that way, the 8.7 mile route would have actually passed

    Not clear if that’s actually the case, but we can certainly say that if Rosendahl had stepped up to support the best option in the first place we’d have that 8.7 mile route. 
    Now it’s up to SM & Beverly Hills to step up. Officials here are convinced that motorists are the city’s lifeblood. Meanwhile, we’ve dug ourselves a $2.4 million deep hole building and operating garages, and will be building more, “draining our general fund” (as an audit said) for another $2 million to keep that program going. 

    Bike racks? “Can’t afford them.” Bus lanes? “What, and have Wilshire Blvd. traffic back up?” 

    This vote could be the cudgel to get our town to do the right thing for a change.

  • If he had voted for that route, instead of a 7.7 mile route he also opposed,  it would have had eight votes and would have passed the Council.

  • Wilsh1003

    A careful look at the “Speed” table in this article demonstrates the difficulties of data presentation and interpretation. The lines for Westwood show a different speed for “Mixed Flow Speeds” and “Bus Speeds” despite the fact that buses are running in mixed flow lanes! How can that be? It is because buses stop to take on and let off passengers, thereby lowering their “speeds.” It is precisely this kind of dysinformation which characterizes DOT and MTA reports and EIRs, which can easily go unnoticed .
    The MTA has indicated that the majority of bus speed improvement will come from improved traffic signalization rather than a bus only lane. Perhaps it might also consider not allowing passenger to get on or off buses as another way to improve their speed.Or, perhaps it might  actually restripe the traffic lane at Sepulveda, a very costly and difficult endeavor. They’ve talked about it for 10 years. Now, with millions of Federal dollars to spend, they might actually do it. But, it might take a few hours and a few cans of paint to get it done.

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